Google quietly landed what could be a killer blow for Microsoft Apps with the release of a number of upgrades to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.
The first piece of bad news for Microsoft: Google created a separate iOS app for Slides, its answer to Microsoft PowerPoint.
The rest of the bad news comes in the form of upgrades to the existing Google Docs and Sheets apps for iOS. With them, users can open, create and edit native Microsoft Office files on any iOS device for the first time.
Google Apps are platform and device neutral — and they are also cheaper than Microsoft's offerings.
Slip Slidin' Away from Microsoft?
The announcement was made through a Google Enterprise blog post by Google software engineer Li-Wei Lee. Google had told I/O attendees in June that this functionality was on the way, it didn’t say when it would be released.
With [the] launch of the new Slides app on iOS and updates to the Docs and Sheets apps, we’re delivering on our promise to make it possible for you to work with any file, on any device, any time. Now you can use the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps on your iPad or iPhone and all other devices (your Chromebook, laptop, Android phone or tablet), to complete the same tasks—online or offline. In addition, you can open, create and edit native Microsoft Office files with the Google Docs suite on iOS."
Bang, Bang, Wallop!! Microsoft is going to find it hard to respond to this, although for the time being it may not feel the need to do so. Why? Because Word for iPad is the top productivity app for iOS in the US and in 13th position among all iOS apps as opposed to Goolge Docs 7th position in the productivity space and 240th position overall, according to app store analysts App Annie.
Microsoft had clearly been paying attention to Google's increasing reach. It slashed the price of Office 365, although those price reductions only go into effect for existing users next year.
But price cuts are probably not going to help much. Google has spent much of its time stressing the functionality capabilities of Google Apps rather than price differences. This time around, Google is not only stressing the fact that you can do anything you want with your Microsoft Office documents through Google Apps, but also do it even offline. Lee writes:
Our phones and tablets help us get things done at work, but sometimes, you’re on the subway with no reception and need to update your spreadsheet before you get to the client’s office. Or you desperately need to make edits to your marketing strategy PowerPoint before you present, but you only brought your iPad to the meeting. We’ve all been there, but now there’s a way out… You’ll even be able to make edits when you’re offline, whether you’re using the app on your phone or tablet, or Chrome on your laptop.”
Currently, all Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings are available for offline viewing and editing. Because of space limitations, Drive stores at most 4,000 items or 5 GB of data offline.
While Google has offered offline support for some time now, the post by Lee focuses on the ability of the productivity apps to operate on any device or platform, online or offline.
Problems For Microsoft
There are a couple of other worrying developments for Microsoft. The first thing is that, as we saw in April, it has become clear to many workers that they don’t actually need all the Microsoft productivity apps, and that when they do, Google now has all the bases covered where it didn’t before.
The other thing is, as we saw yesterday, that the new iOS 8 operating system will become available next month.
If we looked at how this will impact on mobile marketers earlier this summer, the fact that Google is now covering users’ productivity needs too, means that no one that doesn’t want will have to go near Microsoft again — ever!
This, though, doesn’t take into account the new management and in particular the new CEO, Satya Nadella, has moved Microsoft forward in few short months to the point where the old CEO left the board of Microsoft without even a ripple.
Nadellla has shown himself to be capable of responding to changing market conditions in a way his predecessor didn’t seem to be able to do. It is unlikely that with this growing threat to this very lucrative part of Microsoft’s business that he will just sit and let it happen.